Martin Coulombe is president of Osedea, a 50-employee SME that specializes in web and mobile applications, artificial intelligence solutions and custom software. (Photo: courtesy)
Q&A. Montreal-based SME Osedea has succeeded in convincing the Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI) to use its Aïdi construction project management platform for the next five years. This means that all companies that participate in the approximately 1,000 annual SQI projects will have to use the platform. Martin Coulombe, President of Osedea, explains how the company achieved this breakthrough, which crowns a year of work.
Business – Quebec SME managers often say that it is difficult to obtain government contracts. How did you do it? Martin Coulombe – It’s a long process. That is counted in years, including 11 months to go through all the stages of the call for tenders. It should be understood that the SQI manages projects whose value reaches $ 1.2 billion annually. All construction projects with a value exceeding $ 5 million in Quebec must go through the organization. The stakes were high and required investments that we estimate at $ 75,000. But the payoff is well worth it, as we signed a five-year agreement that can be renewed for an additional five years. Over 10 years, that would mean that the platform would be used to manage contracts totaling $ 12 billion.
In the world of project management software, there are many generalist solutions. With Aïdi, we have developed a platform that specifically targets the management of construction projects from the point of view of the client. We have a niche product and it has served us well.
LA – What advice would you give to companies who want to obtain government contracts? MC – You have to be persistent and take the aspect of platform security very seriously. The tender documents require a lot of prerequisites. If you don’t meet the requirements and want to upgrade your solution during the tendering process, it’s too late.
To get a contract, you have to participate in tenders and take risks. The process is long, but when it is signed, we are talking about renewable five-year contracts. For an SME, it is very valuable to have guaranteed income for the next 5 to 10 years.
LA – To what extent will this contract help you in your expansion plans? MC – This year, we want to expand our presence in Canada by entering the markets of Ontario and British Columbia. When a company is not able to obtain contracts in Quebec, it is much more difficult to go elsewhere. This contract, like the one we recently signed with the City of Longueuil, will help us export our platform outside the province.
In addition, we want to increase our presence in the heavy industrial construction sector, such as for aluminum smelter or mine construction projects, which are often very large.
On the revenue side, without giving a figure, we want to triple our monthly recurring revenue this year.